Creative Outlier Free Pro+

Waterproof bone-conduction headphones with audio player

In a nutshell

Thanks to IPX8, the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ are perfect for swimming. However, due to their bone-conduction technology, physics inevitably sets quite narrow limits to the frequency spectrum that ultimately reaches the ear. The wearing comfort, on the other hand, knows almost no limits because these open-ear headphones feel almost imperceptible, particularly as the feeling of having your ears “free” is quite extraordinary. Anyone who has ever wanted to swim around while listening to music will probably be thrilled with these headphones despite all their sound limitations.

  • High wearing comfort
  • Long battery life
  • Adjustable ear hooks
  • Waterproof according to IPX8
  • Built-in 8GB audio player
  • Mid-range-heavy

Creative venture into the realm of bone-conduction headphones with these two Outlier Free models. The Outlier Free Pro+, tested here, boasts an integrated audio player and waterproofing, unlike the ordinary version. While the small Outlier Free+ are only IPX5 protected against dust and splashing water, the Outlier Free Pro+ can go straight into the water thanks to IPX8.

The technology behind bone conduction sound

In principle, Bone conduction is ideal for use in and under water. There is no need for a membrane because no air is moved; instead, a “transducer” vibrates and transmits the sound to the temporal bone, from where it finally reaches the hearing bone. The disadvantages of this principle are that the potential volume is quite low and that the transmitted frequency range – especially in the bass and treble – is rather narrow. Nevertheless, for these headphones, Creative states the possible frequency response as a typical hi-fi 20 Hz – 20 kHz. If you choose an external Bluetooth player instead of the integrated audio player, the connection is made via Bluetooth 5.3. A2DP, AVRCP and HFP are supported as Bluetooth profiles, and either AAC or SBC are used as audio codecs. They can also be connected to two devices at the same time (multipoint).

Handling of the Creative Outlier Free Pro+

Like many of their competitors, the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ are designed as a single headband that wraps around the head and rests on the ears while pressing against the temples.

Charging is via a polarised, magnetic USB cable that docks on the inside of the right earpiece. A full charge cycle takes two hours and fills the battery with enough reserve for ten hours of playing time. Ten minutes of charging provides enough power for two hours. Behind each ear, you will find the battery and control sections, and in front of the ear, there are two transducers, from where the vibration energy emanates; this reaches the cheekbones first and then goes from there into the ear.


The front ends of the earpiece on the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ can be moved forwards and backwards, allowing the point of contact on the temples to be optimised. On the underside of the right side, three small rubber buttons trigger the operating functions. These include switching on and off, switching between Bluetooth and internal audio player, activating low-latency mode, volume, phone and playback control as well as activating Bluetooth pairing. After a short period of familiarisation, your fingers find the three buttons fairly reliably – however, “blindly reaching behind the ear” means that there are occasionally some operating errors.

The middle button switches between MP3 player and Bluetooth mode. The eight available gigabytes (MP3, FLAC, WAV and APE) of internal memory can be easily filled from a computer via the USB charging cable, where the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ is displayed as a regular storage medium. However, this transfer is snoringly slow, which is why I’m guessing a standard below USB 2.0. But one good thing – you can leave it to transfer your favourite album while you pack your swimming kit.


The Creative Outlier Free Pro+ in the water

Before using the earpieces in the water, it is important to close the microphone opening with a tiny little pin that dangles from a tab on the right-hand side so that the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ can actually withstand the wet. After that, you have to decide whether or not to wear the earplugs provided. These have a decisive influence on the sound. If you close the auditory canal with them, the same acoustically beneficial effect occurs as when wearing in-ears: you have a closed system in which the bass is distinctly more audible. If you decide not to wear the earplugs, you will have the funny, but after a while rather annoying, effect where the bass is noticeably boosted when each ear is submerged in the water. After two laps, I put the earplugs in my ears so that I could listen to the music undisturbed. And what’s more, the earplugs also significantly reduce normal swimming and water noise, which means that you are suddenly relatively undisturbed by the noise you make while swimming, the music and the water, something that actually quite impressed me.

What do the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ sound like?

From experience, a bone-conduction transmission does not come close to the sonic quality of classic dynamic membrane drivers, and the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ (unfortunately) does nothing to change that. Due to the principle, the sound image becomes quieter, and the spectrum is significantly truncated when passing over the bone so that in the end, you are left with a rather thin and mid-heavy sound.

However, as mentioned above, the sound was significantly improved when the supplied earplugs were used – although it doesn’t matter whether you use the manufacturer’s earplugs or any other pair of earplugs, because as soon as your ears are closed, the sound becomes much more bass-heavy and muscular. However, this was accompanied by a noticeable loss of treble.

Anyway, wearing earplugs is diametrically opposed to the actual advantage that open-ear headphones offer: namely, a very airy and open-wearing feeling. Where these bone-conduction over-ears can score points is when making phone calls and all other applications where the audio material tends to play in the mid-range – for example, with audiobooks and more acoustic music.

So, if you want to take an exciting novel with you or make that unpostponable phone call while you’re jogging, this can be achieved extremely well with the Creative Outlier Free Pro+. All very well for sports use, but the voice quality that arrives at the receiver is not necessarily suitable for having a lengthy conversation. Fortunately, there is no danger of listening at too high a volume because, at a certain point, the earphones’ self-resonance kicks in, and they tickle your temples with every bass drum until you start to laugh. And at that point, at the latest, your colleagues in the office or people in local traffic become aware of you because a little bit of sound will already have penetrated the outside world through the vibration of the transducers.


The Outlier Free Pro+ from Creative don’t make it easy to draw a conclusion. On the one hand, they are technically quite successful open-ear headphones that score points with robust construction, long battery life and a really exceptionally airy feel. On the other hand, there is the rather midrange-heavy frequency reproduction, which plays somewhere in the range of a kitchen radio and is, therefore, more suitable for background sound than for rousing musical experiences.

But if that’s what you’re after, then it’s exactly what you will get; namely, an unobtrusive ambience combined with an airy feel, so in the end, the Creative Outlier Free Pro+ are quite fun. And things get really extraordinary when you get into the water with them because the effect of suddenly hearing music in the swimming pool is really great. Ambitious swimmers who plough through lane after lane will appreciate this as an extremely worthwhile addition to their training.

8 months ago by Numinos
  • Rating: 3.75
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingOpen-Ear
  • Transducer principlebone conduction
  • Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
  • Weight without cable32 g
  • Cable length60 cm

Special features

  • Available in Midnight Blue and Matte Black, Midnight Blue with Fiery Orange
  • BT codecs: SBC, AAC
  • BT version: 5.3
  • BTprofiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP

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